It seems like I’ve been living with depression longer than I actually have. Yet at the same time, I also feel life passing me by. On one hand, I dread having to face the struggles of each and every day; but, on the other, the fear of not being able to do anything meaningful drives me into each one.
There are times when I hardly show up to my own life. On most days, I’ll be physically present, but mentally absent. On the really bad ones, it’ll be both. Committing to photography helps me show up to a lot more days than usual. But there will always be times when I can’t help but retreat. On those days, I beat myself up for the pictures that I won’t get to make.
Depression can be debilitating. However, I don’t allow it to prevent me from creating. True, it colors the way I see, capture, and present the world around me. If anything, living in its shadow helps me become more attuned to the light. A stark beauty is beauty nonetheless.
By creating despite my depression, I am not trying to blaze a trail through a dark heavy fog to be a beacon unto others. I do not do it to be an example to those who live with the condition. Showing them they’re still capable of doing meaningful work if they just put their mind to it. I wouldn’t dare do that to people who live with mental illness, as if they are oblivious to their own suffering and capability. Platitudes, as great as they sound, offer no real insight or comfort.
I do what I do because I get to prove to myself each and every time that I can do it. And if it gives me one more reason to show up the next day, then the struggle would have meant something.
When I started working on this series of posts, I made it clear that I did not want to offer up hope where there was none. I want to document my experience with depression as honestly as I can. The condition has not robbed me of my will to create and to dream. It hasn’t made things easier, but as awful a cliché as it may be – you play the hand you’re dealt.
Like a dark cloud, depression casts a shadow that looms over my life. But it would be my folly to think that I can’t find beauty in the dark.
More to come…